Girls Lakers hand Westhill first defeat

Time may change, and personnel may change, but the current fact remains indisputable -- the Cazenovia girls basketball team has seized ownership of its ever-growing rivalry with Westhill.

Ignoring the Warriors' undefeated mark, the Lakers beat Westhill for the fourth straight time, Wednesday night at Buckley Gym, pulling out a 46-44 victory to improve to 6-3 on the season.

Once ahead by double digits, Cazenovia let it all get away, yet rescued itself when Ellen Burr put home a driving lay-up with 19 seconds left, which provided the winning points.

None of this was supposed to happen. True, the Lakers, after years of getting beat up by dominant Westhill teams, turned things around last winter by beating the Warriors three times, including a 41-30 verdict in the Section III Class B-1 semifinals.

But Westhill tormentors like Kiley Evans and Kassie Kleine were gone, and though the Lakers were 5-3 so far this winter, it paled next to Westhill's 7-0 start, partly achieved with tough wins over the likes of Jordan-Elbridge and Marcellus, teams the Lakers lost to in December.

It quickly became apparent, though, that Cazenovia cared little for perceptions. It went inside early and often, converting a series of baskets that left Westhill reeling and home fans delighted with a 20-6 first-quarter lead.

A quick adjustment allowed the Warriors to recover, though, and start to eat away at that margin before halftime. Still, the Lakers were up 29-21 at the break, and maintained that advantage through the third quarter.

Refusing to go away, Westhill, with balanced scoring from Kathryn Christensen (12 points), Emily Haggerty (11 points) and eighth-grader Anna Ross (10 points), caught up as time began to wind down -- but the Lakers would have the last surge.

For its part, Cazenovia spread things around just a bit more. Burr led with 12 points, with Ashley Stec and Raeanne Clabeaux hitting on 10 points apiece. Everyone in coach Steve Miles' seven-man rotation, including Taylor Malmsheimer, Colleen Dougherty, Caroline Franz and Kristen Romagnoli, earned points on this night.

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